PLIGHT OF SENIOR CITIZENS

takingcareofelderly

THIS ARTICLE WAS WRITTEN BY AMAN SINGH, A STUDENT OF UNIVERSITY OF PETROLEUM AND ENERGY STUDIES, DEHRADUN.

By despising all that has preceded us, we teach others to despise ourselves.”

 William Hazlitt

Plight of senior citizens have been prevailing in our society for a long time now, despite the fact that there are so many statutes, acts and laws that are now active but this should be realized that not all of them are implemented properly according to definition clause of The Maintenance and Welfare of Parents and Senior Citizens Act, 2007 (hereinafter referred to as MWPSCA, 2007) ‘senior citizen’[1] means any person being a citizen of India who has attained the age of sixty years or above  and ‘parents’[2] means father or mother whether biological, adoptive or step father or step mother, as the case may be, whether or not the father or the mother is a senior citizen this act was meant to provide for more effective provisions for the MWPSCA guaranteed and recognized under the Constitution and for matters connected therewith or incidental thereto. Our Indian constitution also has provisions regarding some old age social security in its Directive principle of state policy “the State shall, within the limits of its economic capacity and development, make effective provision for securing the right to work, to education and to public assistance in case of undeserved want”[3]

Ageing has become a major social challenge because of the decline in the joint family system. A large number of elderly persons, particularly, widowed women are not being looked after by their families. They are forced to spend their twilight years all alone and are exposed to emotional neglect and are not being provided with financial support. To combat this social challenge, there is a need to give more attention to the care and protection for the older persons. Traditional norms and values of the Indian society laid stress on providing care for the elderly. However, due to withering of the joint family system, a large number of elderly people are not being looked after by their family. Though, there is a provision in the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973 under which parents can claim maintenance from their children but the procedure is time consuming and expensive.[4] As far as question of justice is raised judiciary has always interpreted the law for the benefit of the penurious, here in case of senior citizens as said the purpose of the interpretation of the statute Is to unlock the locks put by the Legislature[5] but as of today senior citizens are not aware of their rights which are being secured under criminal procedure, 1973 as well as MWPSCA, 2007 object of this very act is not to punish a person for neglect to maintain those whom he is bound to maintain. It is to provide simple, inexpensive and speedy remedy to the parents and senior citizens, who are in distress by a summary procedure[6] it another judgment regarding the rights of senior citizens it was also observed who can file application for maintenance under section 5 of the Act, which is the source of jurisdiction of Tribunal, reads as Application for maintenance, An application for maintenance under section 4, may be made by a senior citizen or a parent, as the case may be; or by any other person or organisation authorised by him if he is incapable, or the Tribunal may take cognizance suo motu.[7] This has also been considered to be a criminal offence under code of Criminal Procedure “If any person having sufficient means neglects or refuses to maintain his father or mother, unable to maintain himself or herself, a Magistrate of the first class may, upon proof of such neglect or refusal, order such person to make a monthly allowance for the maintenance of his father or mother, at a monthly rate as the magistrate thinks fit, and to pay the same to such person as the Magistrate may from time to time direct”[8]

In another case a question was raised where a father of his deceased married daughter  could be termed as dependents warranting application of multiplier method, Scope, Adoption of Multiplier modified, whether permissible? In this case justice Hariparanthaman observed that in this case under MWPSCA, 2007 should be read in the context of the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (shortly called CEDAW) approved by the Honourable Apex Court read with Article 51 of the Constitution of India The parents are thus statutorily recognized as dependents of married daughters and they are given statutory protection.[9] And therefore in favor of the elderly suffering father Justice Hariparanthaman directed the respondent (insurance company) to deposit the aforesaid amount with 9% interest from the date of filing of the application. Over the years, the government has launched various schemes and policies for older persons. These schemes and policies are meant to promote the health, well-being and independence of senior citizens around the country.[10]

Being and old person is not in hands of anyone, but we need to handle that age in a manner adequate enough to ensure their hand-to-mouth existence. This Hindi shayari explains the exact condition of senior citizens in our society.

“Ham chhayadar ped the to chhaya ke kam aaye

Aur jab sukh gaye to jalane ke kam aaye ”

(When we were useful as a tree of shade, we were used as a shade. Now that we are all dried up we are used as a wood to burn.)

[1] Section 2(f). Maintenance and welfare of parents and senior citizens Act, 2007

[2] Section 2(d). Maintenance and welfare of parents and senior citizens Act, 2007

[3] Article 41, The Constitution of India.

[4] H.S. Subramanya  V H.S. Lakshmi and Others 2014 SCC OnLine Kar 10096 : ILR 2014 KAR 4978 : (2015) 1 AIR Kant R 270 : AIR 2015 (NOC 465) 172

[5] Interpretation of statutes Justice A.K. Srivastava, Judge, Delhi High Court at New Delhi

[6] Supra Note 4.

[7] Priti Dhoundial v. Tribunal (Under Maintenance & Welfare of the Parents & Senior Citizens Act, 2007), 2009 SCC OnLine Del 3832 : (2010) 114 DRJ 362 at page 364

[8] Section 125(1) Code of Criminal Procedure.

[9] Glory Bai v. S.K.A. Noorjakan Beevi 2011 SCC OnLine Mad 319: (2011) 2 LW 460: (2011) 1 TN MAC 339 : (2011) 4 Mad LJ 387 : 2013 ACJ 32.

[10] National Human Rights Commission, Know Your Rights Series: Elderly People (2011).

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